In this essay I intend to discuss the history of the longest American animated sitcom, I intend to discuss the growth of the show as well. I will also talk about the influence it’s had on certain popular animated TV shows like Family Guy, South Park and American Dad. The Simpsons has been running since December 17 1989 it was created by Matt Groening for Fox the TV station. It was based on a middle class American family in which Matt Groening decided to base the family on his real own family but replaced himself with Bart Simpson. Since its inception it’s had 571 official episodes and with season 26 starting on September 2014 and recently was renewed for season 27 for 2015-2016 which just goes to show the growth and success of this ridiculous TV show. It released a movie in 2007 grossing over $527 million (??343 million) and winning numerous of awards while at it as well.
It’s had numerous of criticism and controversy throughout its inception from government member’s, especially when George Bush argued that people shouldn’t follow the Simpson’s since they were poor role models for American’s and should be more like the Walton’s instead ( http://mentalfloss.com/article/21750/4-simpsons-controversies-didnt-end-lawsuits). That hasn’t stopped it from making new episodes and new seasons and to this day it continues to make digs at important figures in a satirical way.
There has been numerous of changes throughout the years of the show from the quality of the script writing, to the animation, to the voice actors and overall popularity of the show as well. Many of the younger generation are not familiar of the fact that the show started as part of The Tracey Ullman Show and then became a show on its own because of its success. In the first episode of the first Simpson episode characters like Homer Simpson had a much deeper voice, his teeth had gaps, Marge was scratchier compared to now, while Bart and Lisa haven’t really changed much and you can see that change in “Season 1 Episode 1 Simpson’s roasting on the fire”.
The first episode showed the great relationship between Homer and Bart, It was a Christmas episode and Homer never received his Christmas bonus from his workplace. Lisa asked her parents for a pony and they told her it wasn’t possible and not realistic, so they said she should be more realistic like her brother to Marge surprise when he asked for a tattoo. Marge said no but homer said yes as long as it came from his own pocket and with Bart being Bart he left immediately to get a tattoo. When Marge found out she took him immediately to get a laser tattoo removal expecting to replace their Christmas savings with Homer’s bonus. As soon as Homer found out he couldn’t bare telling her the truth, so he did what any father would do he tried to provide for his family and not ruin the Christmas spirit for his family. By taking a training class to become a fake Santa for Christmas Eve expecting to get paid enough, so he can buy presents for his family. That wasn’t the case when it was revealed he would only receive $13.00 he knew it wasn’t enough so he thought he could bet on it all to make some money with the $13.00. He asked for Bart’s blessing to spend the money he just earned, Bart told him to believe in anything since that was what TV had thought him in recent years and he said to do the same. The dog they betted on came last but the greyhound got released by the owner at the end for its disastrous performance as it got released the dog ran towards Homer and Bart that was when Bart asked if they could keep him and they did. When they went home Homer confronted to his family about his bonus, Marge comforted him saying you might have not got us something individually but you gave us something to share which was the dog which ended the show on a light heart moment which was lovely to see.
What did I make of the first episode it was quirky, numerous of digs towards each other and drawing was amateur if you compare it today’s cartoons. It was great introduction to the world it showed homer as the silly, not so bright and also very caring towards his family. It showed Bart as the prankster, the kid who is never serious about anything and very childish, as much as a rebel at times. Even though he’s always up to mischief the scene between him and Homer at the race track and Santa shop showed the loving relationship between him and his dad. They might always fight but at the end of the day the love and is still there something the audience were extremely happy about.
That episode showed us what to expect of most of the characters and gave us the taster that most needed to know whether or not to continue watching the next episode and even the third and even the rest of the season. The season ended with 13 episodes and averaging over 27 million viewers for each episode which was quite of an achievement back then.
In comparison to season 26 episode 2, Homer had straighter teeth, voice was much more screamish and he stayed as childish as one could be. Marge voice was much more clear , Lisa was practically the same, Maggie clothes had changed to a darker blue compared to the first season opener when it was light blue, Bart was more refined but his voice or didn’t change much as well. With time, technology and money they all looked much more refined the drawing had improved drastically it was pleasing on the eye especially when it was on Fox HD as well. This is what happens when your budget is at a ridiculous $750,000 but it isn’t as ridiculous when you realise how much they gross yearly its practically peanut money.
One of the issues of our society is that ‘The Simpsons’ point out is, the social class in modern society. Since Springfield is based in America, a democratic country like the UK so in 2014 you would expect there to be no discrimination right? But that isn’t the case. You can clearly see there is discrimination and social ranking taken place for example restaurant owner gives a seat with a good view to Marge who came with a brand-name bag, but gives a seat next to the toilet to Wiggum who wore cheap cloths. Another example is Krusty is an influential celebrity who runs a major TV show. He commits many illegal acts: doping, animal abuse, and even violent acts on his co-worker ‘sideshow Mel’ in his show. However, because of his popularity, most of the illegality he commits in the village is tolerated by the police. There is also discrimination in this example, the Canadian law officials try to arrest Apu (a character who works in a convenience store), for what they call “expressing his faith”. Apu is shown yelling because of drinking a hot beverage; he is also wearing a white turban on his head which is further representation of the homogenous representation of Muslim people. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RD5fK4gAS_s)
One of the reasons it’s so successful it’s the humour they show in the show. One of the interesting features of this wonderful show is the fact that sarcasm are never threatening. So you might be thinking how could a show be this famous when it attacks its own society? Well the main reason is that the sarcasm is one of those where you just laugh at it thinking ”my god that was funny” instead of saying ”how could they say that; which is the main reason it’s so successful. The producers of the show tried to make sure the show is as a harmless as possible with the jokes they use.
With success then comes influence and the Simpson’s is no different especially when it comes to the English language and home. ‘The Simpsons’ have many famous and catchy catchphrases. One of the famous catchphrases from ‘The Simpsons’ is ‘D`oh!’ Homer always cry out ‘D`oh!’ when he is annoyed or does extremely silly which is practically 99.9 percent of the time. It was used in the official Nike advert in 2010 world cup where he met Cristiano Ronaldo outside his front door and reacted by saying Ronal-DOH. This phrase is even recorded in the ‘Oxford English Dictionary’ and is world known worldwide. The Simpsons’ catchphrase ‘craptacular’ is a mix of word spectacular and crap is also another word familiar with Simpson fans.
Some individuals worry that these phrases are being generally used too much. The critics claim that many people who use these phrases do not recognize the grammatical error in the phrase. Critics are worried that with these individuals using these words they don’t understand the fact they are using grammatically wrong words which can ultimately bring a breakdown to the English grammar http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%27oh! Grammar isn’t the only thing that was criticized about the Simpson as well there was a survey regarding Homer Simpson and the fact that he was advertising bad healthy life style because he kept drinking alcohol and eating way too much donuts and children are picking up on these poor habits the parents complained in the UK. This survey was taken by 1,949 parents in a Somerfield website survey http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-359030/The-influence-Homer-Simpson-children.html.
The Simpson and family guy comparisons is an interesting one to make, well these are two dysfunctional families with two ridiculously silly and clueless fathers, along with two nagging mothers, with two smart daughters and two childish sons. That’s where the comparison ends because Maggie doesn’t talk with a British accent while Stewie does and Santa little helper is at times missing in some episode’s while Brian is always active and always talking. Some have accused of family guy being a cheap knock off of the Simpson’s because it came out before family guy. Family guy inception was in 1999 while the Simpson’s was in 1989 some would even argue the Simpson’s gave family guy the pathway to success. They showed them what to be and what to do to be a long successful animated TV series. If there is one thing family guy does worse than the Simpson’s it’s the fact they have made gags regarding rape, down syndrome, Boston marathon controversy, domestic violence, Sarah Palin disabled brother, aids and many more. People can tell numerous of jokes without crossing the complete rude and disrespectful line and its something family guy have done day in day out. They make the Simpson’s look like mother Teresa and this explains the fact that the show had been cancelled a few times and brought back again.
The difference between humours is quite different between the two shows, while the Simpson’s doesn’t really pick on any specific topic and ridicule’s the society they are from which ultimately make you laugh as well. Family guy goes one step further picks on topic that quite ridiculous as I have mentioned before. The show theme song starts off with ‘It seems today that all you see is violence in movies and sex on TV. But where are those good old fashion values, on which we used to rely? Lucky there’s a family guy!’ and the irony is that you see Lois sleeping with practically everyman she sees always cheating on her husband and the amounts of fight scenes we have scene which included Brian and peter is quite ridiculous. We have even seen Lois get stabbed and shot by a family member as well, if that isn’t extreme violence I don’t know what is. This show is extremely popular with teenagers mainly for these reasons and the fact because of the gleeful music the parents usually think since it’s a cartoon it might be harmless but that’s far from the truth.
And in 2007 it was revealed by parents television council when they released the best and worst shows for family viewings and they Family Guy as the worst show on the list and while shows like extreme makeover was listed as the most family friendly show out there at the Moment http://www.starpulse.com/news/index.php/2007/11/01/family_guy_named_worst_show_for_young_au .
Even with all these criticism they continue to go strong the criticism is a certain extent gives them the platform to be noticed and make money. Fox recently signed a contract with Family guy for over $100million dollars, which is an amazing achievement for an animated sitcom but it’s become that popular that they can request for that much. With an estimated $1billion estimation Seth Macfarlane has built an empire like Matt Groening as well it might have started after the Simpson’s but it’s overtaken their rivals and has really become a juggernaut in the industry. It’s very popular with the younger generation and he’s even expanded his empire by making the spinoff of the Cleveland show. ‘At a reported $2 million per episode, Family Guy has garnered at least $400 million up front from syndication. DVD sales have totalled almost another $400 million, while 80 licensees have contributed at least $200 million from sales of various clothing and baubles, actual and digital. Fox’s ad revenue off Family Guy can be estimated at least $500 million over the years. “Suffice it to say, with it being a studio-owned show, and being on the Fox network, it’s of substantial value,” Newman told me. And none of this figures in revenue from MacFarlane’s other hit product, American Dad’ http://www.fastcompany.com/1042476/seth-macfarlane%E2%80%99s-2-billion-family-guy-empire this further emphasizes his ever growing power why make one show, when you can make three and his quest to become a TV mogul continues.
Seth and Matt have made very successful TV shows two individuals, who will always have a place in the history of animation for the success they have had and their longevity in the industry as well also the ever adapting they have shown especially Matt. Seth is still extremely young, which further goes to show how well he’s done for himself. One started it another followed his lead and eventually overtook him and we expect the rivalry to continue for a long time as well.
What could we ultimately say about the Simpson’s’?The Simpsons’ is practically a mirror that allows us to look through ourselves by reflecting many aspects of our society. ‘The Simpsons’ is influenced by our society but at the same time you could say it influences our society.
Some of the influence, that ‘The Simpsons’ give go two ways they are helpful and unhelpful at the same time for making a better society. one example I have used is the mayor example, by watching the political corruption in ‘The Simpsons’, audience that are more mature will automatically know of these issues and would be aware of problems in their own society. People who share this mind set will attempt to fix this issue, before it gets any worse in order for us to have a better world that’s why there are so many campaigners these days. one of the corrupt organisations are FIFA the world footballing governing body which is being campaigned by English FA, German and Dutch Fa to be dismantled and rebuilt because of its long history of corruption,
On the other hand, there are many negative aspects of the ‘The Simpsons’. For instance like I mentioned before if the sarcasm and jokes are not understood the message will be misunderstood and that can cause some problems especially for the young ones. Also by using the catchphrases from ‘The Simpsons’, the English grammar structure would also collapse which is said by some critics.
Every show has negative and positive aspect of the show some can have influence on our society whether it’s been active for 1 year or 20 years. But the important thing is that the Simpson and Family guy gives us the option to look in detail what these situations are and how we could sort it out for ourselves ‘The Simpsons’ purely gives us topics to think about. To some it’s just harmless jokes and to others it’s a serious issue which ultimately depends on how people perceive each topic and it allows us the option to discuss it.